KATOWICE, Poland - The first round of the inaugural BNP Paribas Katowice Open kicked off on Monday, with two of the eight seeds taking to the indoor clay courts - but only one of them surviving.
No.3 seed Klara Zakopalova was the first of the two seeds to take the court and she was the one who survived, beating Kristyna Pliskova, 76(2) 62. The first set was a 63-minute marathon - Zakopalova actually needed seven set points to close it out, five up 5-4 and two more in the breaker - but once she tucked that away it was plain sailing, as she took the second set in half the time: 31 minutes.
"My first match of the season on clay was good!" Zakopalova said afterwards. "At the beginning it was so-so, but I adjusted well. I love clay anyway and I'm glad I won in two sets after a tight first set."
Zakopalova has been playing the best tennis of her career over the last year, recently making back-to-back fourth rounds at Indian Wells and Miami and now sitting at a career-high ranking of No.21.
No.8 seed Laura Robson was in action at night but wasn't able to join Zakopalova in the next round, losing a nail-biter to Lourdes Domínguez Lino, 57 76(7) 61. Robson was two points from winning at 75 65 and held match point at 7-6 in the second set tie-break, but Domínguez Lino's clay court prowess was too tough to hit through, and the Spaniard closed the breaker out and rolled in the third.
Other first round winners were Annika Beck, who won 16 of 18 points from 5-3 down in the second set to close Polish wildcard Marta Domachowska out in straight sets, 63 75; Petra Martic, who came from a set down and blasted eight aces to beat Elina Svitolina, 67(2) 63 62; and Czech wildcard Karolina Pliskova, who prevailed in a see-saw three-setter against María-Teresa Torró-Flor, 61 36 60.
Eight more first round matches take the courts on Tuesday, with No.4 seed Julia Goerges, No.5 seed Alizé Cornet and No.6 seed Kaia Kanepi all among those in action - former Top 20 player Kanepi will be playing for the first time in six months, having been out of action with a right heel injury.